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Oct302009

Inspiration Board

Daniel Pink's: A Whole New MindI’m reading Daniel Pink’s: A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future for my Creativity and Right Livelihood class this semester. This week we had to read Chapter 6 – Symphony and do one of the exercises from the end of the chapter. Daniel defines symphony as:

the ability to put together the pieces. It is the capacity to synthesize rather than analyze; to see relationships between seemingly unrelated fields; to detect broad patterns rather than to deliver specific answers; and to invent something new by combining elements nobody else thought to pair. – pg 130

I think symphony is something I do reasonably well but there is always room for improvement! I chose the inspiration board exercise (pg 154). I chose it because I wanted to do something artsy but within my reach and produce something that would inspire me and hopefully others too. Given the rudimentary nature of my artistic abilities (I can use scissors), I went and scrounged a pile of magazines from upstairs and began to flip though them looking for inspiring imagery. I wasn’t that successful in finding much in the way of images but I did find a few – enough to get started. The magazines I found were text-heavy so this is what emerged:

Justin's Inspiration Board

It turned out to be a text and visual synopsis of the world I feel called to create. I hope you find a little inspiration in what emerged.

love
Justin

Oct282009

I LOVE Biomimicry

Wow, I just finished watching Janine Benyus: Biomimicry in action on ted.com. Thanks Timo! It was totally inspiring.

We as a species have to start asking ourselves the question “how would nature solve _________?” before we start to create anything. All the answers to live in harmony with the biosphere are there – we just have to develop the capacity to observe deeply.

Oct282009

Canadians: Let’s Adopt a 100 Litre Challenge

I awoke this morning with the idea of a 100 Litre Challenge. It looks like the memes driving me successfully mutated :) (see my last post). James and Alisa added to the popularization of local food with their 100 Mile Diet a couple years ago. They spent a full year eating only food that was sourced within 100 miles of their home in Vancouver. Their committed actions had a significant influence on the many benefits of local eating.

I think its time for Canadians to step up to a similar challenge with fossil-fuel usage. Our politicians have proven they are simply puppets for industry and can not be trusted to enact the visionary policies required to bring Canada’s anthropogenic global warming emissions down. This is not a surprise.

So I think it is time to commit to the 100 Litre challenge. It could work like this:

  • 100 litres max for the 1st month
  • 100 litres max for the next 2 months
  • 100 litres max for the next 3 months
  • 100 litres max for the next 6 months

The transition gives people time to ease in before making the big commitment at month 6. This may not be an entirely feasible for rural dwellers but for the majority of urban dwellers it is not an unreasonable consideration. Thoughts?

Oct282009

Who is Driving, Humans or Memes?

I had to watch Susan Blackmore’s TED talk on Memetics today for my social web class. Prior to the class I didn’t even know what memetics was. Susan defines them as: “that which is imitated or information that is copied“. Ok, I can buy that concept but where I start to struggle with her ideas and language is when she is trying to assert that memes are in control: The memes are trying to get copied, they are using you and me as their propagating, copying machinery and we are the meme machines. See goes on further to define the idea of memetic drive – as “memes evolve, as they inevitably must, they drive a bigger brain that is better at copying the memes that are doing the driving”.

I can’t reconcile the position she has taken. It just doesn’t sit well with me. She leaves me somewhat baffled as she is also big on researching human consciousness, even writing a text book on the subject. She obviously believes in consciousness as she says here while also believing that the memes are driving. How can an idea that gets copied do the driving? Isn’t that like saying that a car that gets driven is doing the driving? I don’t buy it. I think consciousness (human or otherwise) is the driver, period. Memes being non-conscious can not drive any more than genes can drive evolution. They can influence possibilities and range of outcomes but they are not driving. What are you thoughts? Have I misinterpreted her or not understood clearly?

Oct262009

A Voice of Sanity on Swine Flu Precautions

This message is from Dr. Vinay Goyal a renowned doctor who lectured on the topic H1N1 (SWINE FLU), its origin and precautions.

From : Dr. Vinay Goyal

Dr. Vinay Goyal is an MBBS, DRM, DNB (Intensivist and Thyroid specialist) having clinical experience of over 20 years. He has worked in institutions like Hinduja Hospital, Bombay Hospital, Saifee Hospital, Tata Memorial etc. Presently, he is heading our Nuclear Medicine Department and Thyroid clinic at Riddhivinayak Cardiac and Critical Centre, Malad (W).

The Message………..

Thanks to media hype about H1N1, several people who trust me have either approached or called me to advice. The hype in media about the utility of face masks and N95 respirators as a tool for general protection against H1N1 can’t be deplored enough. Yesterday, a friend who listened wanted me to write down briefly what I advised so that he could tell others in similar words. Hence this short email to friends whom I have advised recently (and others whom I haven’t yet). Please realize that this is not an official advice, especially the one about face masks or N95.

Most N95 respirators are designed to filter 95% particulates of 0.3µ, while the size of H1N1 virus is about 0.1µ. Hence, dependence on N95 to protect against H1N1 is like protecting against rain with an umbrella made of mosquito net.

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Oct192009

Regenerative Community Development

My terminology on the subject of community development has evolved a little since my first post on the topic. Since beginning at BGI and increasingly so, I’ve had the sense that “sustainable” is not a high enough ambition for our individual and collective pursuits. For example, in the relationship or marital realm, do you feel inspired to aim for “sustainable”. I don’t.

So what lies beyond sustainable? If sustainable is doing things in a way that will allow you to carry on doing what you are doing into the indefinite future; then what lies beyond that is the ability to experience and create more than you currently do. Considering the enormous environmental and social deficit human civilization has dug itself into, we better start designing systems that do just that, improve our collective social and natural capital, while producing whatever goods or services humanity needs.

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Oct182009

I love my bike but Amtrak doesn’t

On my handbike leaving BGI Campus

Since the engine of my veggie-powered truck died, I’ve been graced with the opportunity/necessity to ride my bike more. The above pic was snapped as I was leaving the first BGI intensive of the year on Bainbridge Island. I took it down with Amtrak on the train, then ferry hopped and pedaled over to campus from downtown Seattle. The round trip was delightful except that the train didn’t really have surplus space to store my handbike. The baggage folks were not stoked. It turns out the long-haul trains have enormous baggage compartments but commuter trains are more limited in the baggage they can accommodate. They will take normal bikes which can hang in a rack but can’t deal with recumbents.

On the upside, the inside layout is incredibly accessible compared to my multiple cross-country trips with VIA Rail. The hallways are also wide enough for me to pass through in my chair and they even have fully accessible washrooms on board. So other than the handbike constraint, train travel has been by far the most comfortable way to get to school.

Oct172009

The Flu: To Vaccinate or Not

I spent part of this evening bumbling around YouTube for opinions and information on seasonal flu vaccines and swine flu (H1N1) vaccination. My general sense is that the evidence that flu vaccinations are beneficial, especially to healthy adults seems pretty underwhelming and the case for avoiding them rather compelling. I’d love to hear peoples’ thoughts on the subject either in the comments of this post OR in an anonymous, 2 question Survey Monkey I set up. I’ll post the Survey Monkey results in a while after enough people have had a chance to leave their thoughts.

Here are a couple videos that mainstream media would probably call conspiratorial but are nonetheless interesting data points on the map of reasons not to get vaccinated:

CLICK HERE to take the anonymous survey!

Oct122009

Social Web: To Twitter or Not

Twitter LogoMy social web class is holding my feet to the technological fire. Part of this week’s discussion is about Twitter. I signed up months ago but have so far continued to lurk, having not uttered a single tweet (see sidebar on right). Perhaps my followers (49 of them!) enjoy the silence created by reluctance to tweet. My inner luddite is perplexed by the idea of intentionally bringing even more electronic noise into my life to consume ever more of my attention. So my questions are: can this platform be used in service to the growth of our consciousness? If so, how do you think? How are you using Twitter? How has it benefited and hindered your life?

Oct122009

The Social Web and the Importance of Weak Ties

In social web class this week I learned about the distinction of strong and weak ties. Strong ties are those in our inner circle of friends and family who we have established, trusting relationships with. Weak ties are connections to others we know or know of via friends, conferences, social networking sites, etc. Weak ties turn out to be a strong asset and the social web is making it much easier to expand and take full advantage of this network. A 2008 New York Times article had this to say:

This rapid growth of weak ties can be a very good thing. Sociologists have long found that “weak ties” greatly expand your ability to solve problems. For example, if you’re looking for a job and ask your friends, they won’t be much help; they’re too similar to you, and thus probably won’t have any leads that you don’t already have yourself. Remote acquaintances will be much more useful, because they’re farther afield, yet still socially intimate enough to want to help you out. Many avid Twitter users — the ones who fire off witty posts hourly and wind up with thousands of intrigued followers — explicitly milk this dynamic for all it’s worth, using their large online followings as a way to quickly answer almost any question.

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